Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movie Minefield - Modern Cinema

Going to the movies, or even watching one at home, can be fraught with anxiety, as well as legal liabilities. It is, at the very least, intimidating. From the moment you slip that DVD into your player, you are in jeopardy. The combined forces of the FBI and Interpol are tracking every movement of that disc. Sometimes I find myself wondering if the FBI and Interpol should put this much effort into thwarting terrorism; instead of tracking movies.

I mean, here I am in my own home, watching a movie which I have either bought, borrowed, or rented, and the first thing I see on the screen is a warning from both of these agencies. They can fine you, imprison you, and even bankrupt you for misuse of a movie. And to cap it off, you can’t fast forward these warnings to the next scene. You are a prisoner in your own home, even before you have committed the crime.

You know, they hung Hussein, and I have always harbored a suspicion that he was guilty of stockpiling huge amounts of pirated DVD’s in each of his many palaces. And what about Bin Laden? Don’t you find it a little bit suspicious that he was killed while sitting in front of his TV? You have to wonder…

Theaters nowadays are not much fun either. It begins with the purchase of your ticket, when you are threatened with being evicted from the premises; without a refund; for violating the “Code of Conduct”, which is not on the ticket, or even posted anywhere I’ve ever seen. So, now I am sitting anxiously in my seat, wondering if I am doing anything wrong.

Then comes the film itself; with its ubiquitous warnings about copying the film. Yeah, I’m all set up in the third row with a video recorder, waiting to make my fortune. I guess it’s time to think back to the days of my youth, and contrast the 2 experiences.

As a kid we had it fairly simple. You bought your ticket, you paid the price. And then stayed all day if you cared to. At the Century’s Avalon, on Kings Highway and East 18th Street, there was even a balcony; or lodge, as it was referred to on the sign by the stairs. That was where we went to sit if we were bored, or had sat through the movie already. The balcony was the spot to pour soda upon the unsuspecting souls watching the movie for the first time. And for those who cared to sit up close down below; in order to avoid the soda; there was the thrill of hurling quarters; or rocks; at the screen, hoping to tear a hole in it.

But, by far the most exciting way of going to the movies involved a group effort. We would all chip in for one ticket; which was like a buck at the time; and then one of us would go into the theater and let the others in through the fire door, which, when done in the daytime, would bath the entire theater in bright daylight, eliciting moans and curses from the afflicted innocents. Then came the fun part; being chased by the 17 year old usher dressed in an Admirals uniform, armed with a flashlight. He never caught anyone, leaving me to wonder at the lengths which some people will go to for minimum wage.

Well, looking back on it all, I suppose I can now see that I brought it all upon myself, and as such, have no real reason to complain. But man, I miss those days!

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